TWO men have each been fined more than £1,000 after being convicted of poaching in the New Forest.

They were prosecuted after police received reports that hare coursing was taking place near the Lower Bisterne Farm Estate in Ringwood.

A police spokesman said a local resident was walking his dog when he saw two men in a nearby field.

"He grew suspicious after he witnessed them flushing a hare and then releasing a dog in order to pursue the hare," said the spokesman.

"The two men attempted to flee the scene in their vehicle, which was parked close by, but were blocked from leaving by estate associates and eventually fled on foot.

"Following police enquiries, the men were arrested a short while later. They were then reported for summons on suspicion of poaching offences - namely trespassing in pursuit of game."

Two 29-year-old men from Poole, Stephen Cooper, of Rockley Road, and Shane Aaron Manyweathers, 29, of Frobisher Avenue, appeared at Southampton Magistrates' Court.

They were both convicted of poaching and each ordered to pay a fine of £1,050.

PC Matthew Thelwell of Hampshire Constabulary’s CountryWatch team, said: “We will always support our local rural communities by prosecuting those who wish to conduct or be involved in blood sports such as hare coursing, where evidence allows.

"Damage to farm land and property is never acceptable and will not be tolerated.

"We will always seek to explore relevant lines of enquiry in order to identify and bring those responsible to justice.”